Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Comic Con 2008 - Friday

Friday started with the Watchmen line. As you may have speculated from earlier posts, the big panels had worse lines this year, but the increment of worsening has slacked off. Along with the new hi def projectors in the biggest rooms (hall H and ballroom 20), they got new people-tracking software to help with the head counts, so the lines moved a bit faster, but there is no way to make it into any of the larger rooms (not just H and 20, but also any of the room 6 subdivisions, or rooms 2 or 3) without “missing” a panel waiting. I was in the Watchmen line at 8:30 for the panel, which started at 11:55 (it was the main panel I wanted to see, so forgive the excess), so I was about 1,000 back from the door (hall H holds 6,500). The line reportedly stretched about 3/5 of a mile, which I believe.

The Watchmen panel was better than expected. The material that they showed was a million percent better than the trailer, which wasn't really bad itself (just limited in what it presented). Several of the actors are panel naturals (the Nathan Fillion effect – some people just know how to work a room) – Billy Crudup, the British guy they cast as Ozymandias, and even Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Carla Guigino had a weird look on her face while the british dude (imdb says his name is Matthew Goode) was talking about getting high in Vancouver that was priceless. Zack Snyder has the same con affect he has always had – awkwardness overcome by enthusiasm that gets to be really funny 20 minutes in. I liked the fact they had Dave Gibbons on the panel – Jeff Jensen (who was hosting) asked him did he ever want to “just slap Alan Moore and tell him to lighten up,” and the diplomacy of Dave’s answer (something like “I wish Alan could enjoy the process of these things coming alive as much as I do”) was nice. The questions were good, and generally came from people in costume, which led to Snyder saying “awesome!” after just about every question was asked. They used Philip Glass (I don’t know the name of the piece) over the new footage which worked better than you could imagine. The "extended" footage showed Nixon, the beginning of the “flashbulb” scene, Dr. Manhattan blowing a lot of people up, the Comedian’s swan dive, Rorschach’s mask effect (a lot of it - it had a nice ink-diffusing-through-canvas, non-CGI feel), Dan, expertly shot watches… just great stuff.

Good panel but, due to the timing, it almost killed the day. We did some floor stuff (including the small press booths, where I bought some nice stuff, missed a hell of a lot including the new Tori Amos book(Comic Book Tattoo) and signing (the book looks phenomenal, by the way - I bought it when I got back home), saw most of the floor, but didn’t really get anything done, which probably saved my con-sanity, now that I think about it. We went early to see 24, and wound up getting into the panel before (Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files). I didn’t know his work, but he was an engaging speaker, and did the panel solo. He had that crazed but friendly hippy affect, like a thinner American Hagrid.

The 24 panel – some nice footage from the beginning of the prequel movie 24: Exile, and some time with Keefer, who came off as exceedingly gracious and good natured (he knows how to treat the crowd), and the actor that plays Tony, who was a little to gum-smacking-attitudinal. Many of the questions concerned the ethics of torture and when Jack pees (the on set joke is that every time they cut to the White house, Jack takes a leak, drinks, and eats a sandwich), which had relatively thoughtful and/or funny answers. Very pleasant panel.

In contrast, the Prison Break panel was pretty bad. They aired the beginning of the first episode (with insert cards still in – like “insert hand holding photo of Sarah” – which got some laughs due to their unintendedly absurd nature), which was actually fine, on par with Prison Break openings of the past. It looks like they are going in a more secret agent-ish direction this season. No prison yet (but hey, it’s an even numbered season). The bad part was that Dominic Purcell was a loathsome panelist, checking his Blackberry and sending waves of negative energy at the audience, and the actress that plays Sarah was a bit quiet, and didn’t know how to play the crowd (her answers were to serious, and she had a tendency to bring everything back to her theater work… blech!). The producers weren’t the engaging super-producers comic con crowds have come to expect. All in all, a lousy use of my time. One interesting thing – Dominic Purcell notes that comic con is the only place anyone ever says “I love John Doe” to him.

Friday Night is the Eisners, the Oscars of comics. I always go, and my comic book retailer always gets me a spot at the tables (thanks, Ralph!). I was a little over 50/50 guessing the winners, which was pretty good. I waited in the booze line with the Reno 911 guys for the second year in a row (Dangle and Junior - we must have the same drunk clock), who also presented some awards, giving George Foreman grills to the runners up (“Cash value? Bigger than then actual award”). Last year, I met Jane Weidlin, but this year she was escorted in by a cadre of Stormtroopers so, no. Sam Jackson gave some awards. I was sitting near Gerard Way (front man of My Chemical Romance, who won two Eisners for Umbrella Academy), who I did not talk to (what am I gonna say? I loved that “teenagers scare the living shit out of me” song?). The awards were nice, and many were deserving, though I cannot understand how Len Wein gets into the hall of fame before Mort Weissinger. Always a nice night.

I didn't eat till I got back to the room at nearly 1 o'clock, where I ate some of what was left of the "Giant NY Pizza" we had ordered (28" - it was pretty good).


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